Thank you, American Co-OP. CJ, Carol, and I were invited to attend their meeting on the island of St. Lucia. Thanks to Rick Bastinelli of Centric Business Systems, we had a wonderful trip to this scenic location. Tucked in the Caribbean close to Caracas, Venezuela, it was a long trip, and we were happy when we landed.
This is the first time we have ever had a police escort from the airport to a resort or any place. The venue is known as BodyHoliday. It was quite an experience as the island American Co-Op chose for this meeting has very poor roads and many cars. Hence the police escort from the airport to the resort, which greatly shortened the trip.
We want to thank Bryan Blakeman, general manager of Valley Office Systems in Youngstown, Ohio, for inviting us. As our host and current president of the American Co-Op dealer peer group, he could not have been more gracious. One thing is for sure it was a very pleasant trip.
American Co-OP Meeting Highlights
Above: John Schweizer of ConnectWise talks cybersecurity with American Co-OP dealers.
As for the meeting, the program was a mixture of presenters covering software from John Schweizer of ConnectWise, industry analysts including The Cannata Report as well as Andy Slawetsky of Industry Analysts, and John Sheehan, SVP, channel sales, for Sharp.
Above: Sharp’s John Sheehan was a familiar face to many of the Sharp dealers at the American Co-OP meeting.
You guessed right if you said the American Co-Op group has many Sharp dealers. In fact, many of those attending were at the Sharp dealer meeting the week before in Las Vegas. It was a continuation of sorts, as these dealers were interested in our opinions about the prior week’s activities.
There was a sad note as this was Rick Bastinelli’s last American Co-OP meeting. American Co-OP has a rule that states when a dealer sells his business, he can no longer be a member. It is a rule that makes no sense. You have a member who has contributed to the growth and success of the group and ask him to leave because he is no longer independent. In this case, to their great credit, they wanted Rick to stay.
“I wrote these rules, and we asked several people who sold their businesses to leave,” said Bastinelli. “Why should I be an exception?” That is consistent with who this man is. When you use the words such as honor, integrity, and generosity, you are describing Rick Bastinelli. The dealers do not care that he sold his business, and he is still a member of the Sharp dealer council. We could go on, but we believe you know what we are talking about.
As for the meeting, not much more we can say. The rules are that we cannot discuss what was presented at their gathering. What we can say is that the message was all about diversification and is very much the same that has been presented to SDG, ICDA, and now American Co-OP. On the schedule, we have CDA and ProDealer meetings coming up. BPCA wanted us to do the same, but we had a conflict. We look forward to visiting with them next April.
Above: American Co-OP dealers and their guests pose for a photo op during a boat cruise in St. Lucia.
We had ample opportunities to enjoy the island with American Co-Op members and numerous enjoyable experiences, including dinner on a catamaran cruising the bay. These groups are a great way for dealers to share best business practices and find solutions to some of the difficulties they may be experiencing.
We recommend them all. They operate in a similar manner and always have a schedule of speakers in some great locations along with some fun time. Many choose to bring their wives and that adds to the enjoyment of the meeting.
On a more serious note, it is an opportunity for manufacturers to attend those meetings that have a significant number of their dealers. With American Co-OP that is Sharp. That is why John Sheehan was there. He discussed some things going on with Sharp and then listened to what the dealers wanted to address. It is good for both parties because it is an excellent vehicle for communication and that is always a good thing.
We are happy to see the number of meetings we are being invited to, by both manufacturers and dealers. That tells us a lot. It also means everyone is anxious to have a dialog. We are all searching for answers and these meetings are an excellent forum for manufacturers to receive them.
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